We get many requests for work flows to achieve a variety of business mapping results. One common request is to derive demographic data from a circle around a point on a demographic map. In other words, here’s an address, draw a 25 mile circle around it and tell me the population of that area.
Many customers require demographic data circle query search results in their work. These population or income results add value to strategic planning, expansion planning, competitor analysis, and other business analysis.
Like a Circle in a Circle or a Wheel Within a Wheel
Of course, the circle radius parameters can vary greatly depending on the particular business using MBO and the nature of the inquiry. Some users are extremely zoomed into the map, viewing circles of just a few miles across. Others prefer a wider view and could request a circle radius of 50 miles or more. And yes, Thomas Crown, you can insert multiple circles on the map.
Enter Demographic Data
Demographic data requirements can vary as well. Usually population is the requested demographic category. However, median income and household data are often requested and there’s a list of many more categories available within our growing US Census data library. Census data is compiled every ten years with occasional updates. We’ve posted the latest update from 2016. We’ll compile more data as it becomes available and as it fits it into our busy software release schedule.
Our demographic data is presented in MBO by geographic district, also referred to as map layer. The user can request demographic data by zip5 code, zip3 code, county, state, Census tract, Metropolitan Statistic Area, City Limit and most recently Congressional District.
When you choose to derive population by a circle or a polygon or even a drive time area, the application applies your shape to the underlying district of choice. You draw your circle or shape and then select the district layer to apply – usually people choose zip codes. That area is going to approximate the circle or polygon based on the district boundaries. The resultant shape will include any areas of the district layer touched by the drawn shape. So any zip code touched by the circle will be included in the demographic results. In MBO the user can adjust the search area intersection rules in Map and Data. Click the Map and Data Edit Gear and at the bottom select Edit Search Options, to adjust how your map object considers may layer intersections – intersect 50%, intersect fully inside, or intersect.
The circle or radius tool is available in multiple places in the application – on the overall tool bar, on the mini-tool bar at selected data points, or even in the list of draw tool options. Drive time queries are available on overall tool bar and or at the data point – see the mini-tool bar. If you’ve only selected or checked on zip codes in Map & Data then the spatial query will default to a search of the zip code layer and immediately offer a save-name option for that area of interest or territory you’ve just created – a zip code map.
The Data Window pops up to show you your list of Zip Codes, Counties or States etc. The Data Window is essentially a spreadsheet tool within MBO. Here, in your area of interest Data Window spreadsheet, is where you click Add Data and grab that General data drop down option, on the left. Choose Demographic Data and go to town (or have a ball, as the case may be). Population, households, even ethnicity can be moved over from Left to Right in the panel. Then Set the Data Column values in the lower right. Refer to the video above for a step by step view of the process.
Once you’ve assigned your demographic data to your area of interest or territory, you’ll notice a Total button at the bottom of your territory view. This will let you see the total population by territory. Thus you can use the tool to visually selected an area of interest by circle or shape, and then fine tune that area by adding additional zip codes to the territory and increase the population; if you are into that sort of thing.
With MBO subscriptions you are allowed to export the data out for use outside the application. Typically that process (a button click on the far right of the Data Window toolbar) works well. However, Excel versions vary widely and can behave strangely depending on versions or on how many Excel sheets you have open. Some suggestions:
• Save your file as an [Name].XLS as you export. You could also save as [Name}.CSV. MBO exports to .CSV as a default
• Shut down all other Excel windows when exporting from MBO
You can always re-query your circle or shape for other data layers – just select the shape again and click the binoculars. You are limited to querying one data layer at a time.
So now you know the secret to grabbing demographic data in a circle around a point. I will reiterate that the actual numbers reflect the zip codes, counties, or states touched by that circle and not the area of the circle itself. If you need something that precise, you should contact geographic information systems (GIS) companies like www.Esri.com for a more scientific result. Bring your credit card.
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